Koru’s Weekly News Round-Up – March Week 1

Missed the news last week? Not to worry – here, we will recap and link to the most topical stories over the past seven days.

World’s first plastic-free aisle opens in Netherlands supermarket

“Shoppers in the Netherlands will get the chance to visit Europe’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle on Wednesday in what campaigners claim is a turning point in the war on plastic pollution. The store in Amsterdam will open its doors at 11am when shoppers will be able to choose from more than 700 plastic-free products, all available in one aisle. The move comes amid growing global concern about the damage plastic waste is having on oceans, habitats and food chains. Scientists warn plastic pollution is now so widespread it risks permanent contamination of the natural world. Earlier this year, a Guardian investigation revealed that UK supermarkets were a major source of plastic waste, producing 1m tonnes a year. And for the past 12 months, campaigners have been calling for all supermarkets to offer a plastic-free aisle…” via The Guardian.

After the ‘sunrush’: what comes next for solar power?

“Some people call it the “sunrush”: a 25-year period in which solar power has grown exponentially, transforming the technology from rarefied oddity to the world’s fastest-growing energy source. This surge, which saw 100MW of capacity in 1992 rocket to more than 300GW in 2016, has been largely driven by falling costs, which plunged 86% between 2009 and 2017. China, the world leader in building and installing solar panels, added a record-breaking amount of capacity last year. The technology is even setting records in the grey UK: at one point last summer even providing more power than the nation’s nuclear power stations. But with some experts asking whether the cost reduction curve of solar is drawing to an end, there are questions over whether stratospheric growth can be maintained. And while more energy from the sun hits the Earth’s surface in an hour than humanity uses each year, can today’s silicon-based solar meet our long-term power needs?” via The Guardian.

PG tips announces switch to plastic-free fully biodegradable teabags

“The UK’s biggest tea brand is switching to fully biodegradable tea bags free from synthetic materials to cut down on plastic pollution caused by the nation’s favourite hot drink. The first of the new eco-friendly pyramid teabags from PG tips – made from a plant-based material that is 100% renewable and biodegradable – will go on sale in UK supermarkets next week, it was announced on Wednesday. In the first major move by a mainstream tea brand, the Unilever-owned company says it is working to make all its teabags from 100% plant-based material by the end of the year. Unlike conventional teabags, they will be free of polypropylene, a sealant used across the industry to ensure bags hold their shape. Unilever’s scientists have been exploring plant-based alternatives for PG tips for some time and have already converted ranges in Canada, Poland and Indonesia. According to the trade body the UK Tea and Infusions Association, teabags account for 96% of the 165m cups of tea drunk every day in the UK…” via The Guardian


USA’s largest timber office building proposed for New Jersey

“Canadian studio Michael Green Architecture has unveiled plans for a massive timber office complex on the waterfront of Newark, New Jersey, which is expected to be the largest of its kind in the USA. The Vancouver-based practice’s design comprises three stepped volumes in rising heights of six, eight and 11 stories, which will be built with a mass-timber structure – a collective term describing engineered wood products like glulam and cross. Measuring 500,000 square feet (46,451 square metres), the scheme is expected to surpasses the overall area of any other office building in the USA that also uses engineered timber construction. It will be more than double the size of Michael Green Architecture’s office and retail tower in Minneapolis, which was named the “largest mass-timber building” in the US when it was completed in 2016. Michael Green Architecture was tasked to design the commercial offices by New York real-estate company Lotus Equity Group for Newark’s Riverfront Square – an 11.8-acre (4.8-hectare) mixed-use development planned for a parcel of land adjacent to the Passaic River…” via Dezeen

Ikea joins Big Clean Switch to offer 100% renewable energy tariff

Ikea is calling for households to join its latest joint venture – a collective energy switch that promises an exclusive 100% renewable electricity tariff. The furniture retailer has joined forces with the “Big Clean Switch” campaign to use a collective switch to secure cheaper green power for the households that sign up. The two companies claim it will save a typical UK household £300 a year in lower gas and electricity bills. Big Clean Switch describes itself as a “profit with purpose” company that helps people move to renewable electricity providers. Its website only list tariffs where the supplier can guarantee that 100% of the electricity sold is matched from renewables such as sun, wind and water. Those interested in possibly switching as part of the scheme should register at bigcleanswitch.org/ikea. Big Clean Switch will then negotiate the best deal it can with green suppliers, at which point customers can choose to sign up. The prices will be announced on 6 March.Hege Sæbjørnsen, Ikea’s sustainability manager, says that by linking up in this way, “we hope to make switching to renewable electricity simple, accessible and affordable to everyone”…” via The Guardian

China puts responsibility for battery recycling on makers of electric vehicles 

“China will make manufacturers of electric vehicles (EV) responsible for setting up facilities to collect and recycle spent batteries, as part of its efforts to tackle mounting waste in the sector, say new rules published on Monday. China, which began promoting electric cars in 2009, aims to become a dominant global producer as it bids to curb vehicle emissions, boost energy security and promote high-tech industries. But with lithium battery production already up by half in 2017 and waste set to hit as much as 170,000 tonnes this year, the government is racing to improve its recycling capabilities and stamp out what could become a growing source of pollution. China’s industry ministry issued “interim” rules on Monday that hold carmakers responsible for the recovery of new energy vehicle batteries and require them to set up recycling channels and service outlets where old batteries can be collected, stored and transferred to specialist recyclers. The carmakers must also establish a maintenance service network allowing members of the public to repair or exchange their old batteries conveniently, the ministry said. Measures aimed at spurring good practice among consumers, including subsidies or battery repurchase pacts, should also be adopted, the notice said…” via Reuters

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